tv [untitled] May 2, 2012 9:00pm-9:30pm EDT
they would put these tents up and made use of them, which if i had the same thing, i think i'd make use of them too. and then when the new park service site was being established there, they contacted the park service about the possibility of getting them in a repository. and when it was realized that we had two surviving civil war tents, word went out the civility civil war sites if anybody was interested, and we were. we come up with the chunk of change to buy two tents for the people of the united states. these objects are meant to impart a linkage, a tie to that period. these tents were slept in by actual soldiers. they were actually moved, stored, carried, transported by physical beings of that time frame. that's why the items are that linkage.
they don't exist today, because like us in our future, we will pass unto time. they have passed unto time. but these objects have survived. they're accidents. i mean, two tents, half of what exists in the world from the civil war time frame are right here, they are accidents of survival. and they're here to impart appreciation and understanding of a different time and different people. >> you can watch this or other "american artifacts" programs any time by visiting our website cspan.org/history and watch "american artifacts" every sunday, at 8:00 a.m., 7:00 p.m., and 10:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span3. sunday on q&a -- >> i don't regard this as just the biography of lyndon johnson. i want each book to examine a kind of political power in america. and i'm saying this is a kind of
political power. seeing what a president can do in a moment of great -- in a time of great crisis, great crisis, how he gathers all around, what does he do to get legislation moving, to take command in washington, that's the way of examining power in a time of crisis. i said i want to do this in full. i suppose it takes 300 pages in there. so i couldn't -- that's why i just said let's examine this. >> robert caro on the passage of power, volume 4 in the years of lyndon johnson. his multivolume biography of the 36th president this sunday at 8:00 on c-span's q&a. and look for our second hour of conversation with robert coar sunday, may 20th. spend the weekend in oklahoma city with book tv and american history telephone. saturday at noon eastern check in on literary life with book tv on c-span 2, oklahoma university president and former senator
david boron on his letter to america. also rare books from galileo, copernicus and others from the history of science collection at ou. and sunday at 5:00 p.m. eastern, oklahoma history on american history tv on c-span 3. tour the oklahoma city bombing memorial with codesigner tory butzer. plus a look into african-american life in 1920s oklahoma, and native american artifacts from the special collections at the oklahoma city history center. once a month explore the history and literary life of cities across america. this weekend from oklahoma city on c-span 2 and 3. the civil war battle of shiloh took place april 6th and 7th, 1862 in hardin county, tennessee, and resulted in a union victory over confederate forces attempting to defend two major western railroads servicing the strategically
important mississippi valley. nearly 100,000 troops took part in the fighting which produced nearly 24,000 casualties, making it the bloodiest battle to that point in u.s. history. american history tv visited shiloh park where stacy allen, the chief ranger gave us a tour of the battlefield. >> if you'd been stand hearing in april of 1862. even march of 1862, this would have been a very busy landing, in hardin county in the southwest section of the state of tennessee. the area was being used as a base of operations by the united states army. the army that disembarked was under the command of ulysses s. grant. the reason the army was in the area was western confederate railroads, principally the memphis and charleston line which linked to chattanooga and from there points to the atlantic seaboard.
extremely important railroad for the confederate states of america. it intersected with the north-south known as the mobile and the ohio railroad, which ran from kentucky to the ohio river basin to the gulf of mexico at mobile. secretary of war leroy pope walker of the confederate states called these two railroads the vertebrae of the confederacy. and they intersected, they junctioned just 2 land ward miles to the southwest of pittsburgh landing here in west tennessee. hence the alreadies were viable military targets for the united states force news attempting to put down what they styled a rebellion, which had been the succession of 11 confederate states formally of the united states of america. we were barely less than a year into the war when union forces reacquired the lower tennessee
valley by seizing donelson in the northern portion of the state between february 6th and 16th of 1862. that opened up the entire lower tennessee to union navigation, particularly gunboats and military forces who could penetrate boo the heartland of the confederacy, reaching points in northern alabama, northeast mississippi to threaten the railroad here in the western confederacy. the confederates now reeling from losses at forth henry and donelson, having abandoned kentucky and middle tennessee and the forces pushed back into north mississippi and west tennessee concentrated to defend the railroads. and the point of concentration selected was corinth, mississippi, where the railroads junctioned. thus you can see the interplay of railroads and the river, which in 1862 was a viable interstate highway.
armies of the united states under the command of ulysses grant and don carlos buhl both forming a junction on the river and the confederate force under albert sydney johnston concentrating now in and around corinth to hold the railroads for the purpose of holding the valley, defending the valley. and that's what brings in all of this activity here at this location in the early spring of 1862. what you would have seen here is ships, steamboats coming in, off-loading personnel, as well as all of the elements of what it takes to wage war, all of their equipment, all of their food, tents, you name it. so it would have been very noisy as this massive off-loading of personnel, animals and equipment
began to come ashore and go up on top on the plateau, which is known through poem and song as shiloh hill and then to occupy and camp across the landscape here at shiloh. the plateau above pittsburgh landing offered quite a bit of advantages to the united states forces under grant. initial reconnaissance by sherman illustrated they could camp upwards to 100,000 men on the plateau. and there was the road networks. now there weren't a lot of roads because it was an area of rural wilderness landscape, small pharmacy, subsistence farmers living on the plateau. but those roads afforded logistics and communications. and what didn't exist, of course the union army could improve upon and build more roads. but suitable campment ground, naturally defensible as sherman
described it. it was cut up. the topographical relief that will encompass the area the union forces occupied, which becomes the battlefield of shiloh has a maximum elevation relief of 230 feet. the average is 50 to 80 feet with sloping grades of 40 to 70% on the creeks and tributaries that cut up the plateau. so it's a rugged landscape. and with only 25 acres under cultivation, the area was covered in an old growth open forest, which would be a huge canopy. this was old growth forest. most americans today have never encountered what was the deciduous old growth forest here in the eastern united states. but if you can imagine, most of the trees be in excess of 100 years old to 200 years old. that's what covered the landscape. you would have the marshy zones and the creek valleys, which would be choked with denser vegetation.
so in general, an old growth open forest, high canopy with a reduced understory on the plateau. the average line of sight across the landscape, even under the canopy was, say, maybe 100 to 200 yards. it was musket distance if you want to use the military terminology. that's where they pitched their tents. they pitched their tents under the canopy. there was a limited amount of open space. and what open space was available, they're going to need for instructional purposes and for training the troops. half of grant's army had never been in combat before. half of them were raw recruits. so there was going to be a great deal of instruction necessary. for their opponent, for the confederate forces that the union forces understood were gathering before them to defend -- to defend the railroads, as many as eight out of ten of those confederate soldiers, including their officers, had never been in
combat before. so what was shaping up here was an event yul clash at some point between between pittsburgh landing and corinth, which was going to involve basically green armies, men who had never experience experienced who had never experienced a shot fired in anger. a lot of people drive through shiloh today, you know, we lay roads out where the ground is easier to negotiate. so i think that misleads visitors today when they drive on to the battlefield, they don't get the sense of the topographical relief and the nature of the environment for which the battle is going to be fought upon if they don't get out of their cars and step into the woods and start exploring what that forest hides. what it enshrines as one historian would say, because the woods of shiloh are, in his terms, a shrine of american history.
we step into the forest, we get a little bit more perspective on what was the common view for a soldier participating in the battle. and the confusion and chaos of combat now that you've got tens of thousands of muskets and dozens of cannons going off, producing all that black powder smoke, there isn't a great deal of high wind, just hang and hold in an area, then everything becomes shrouded and everything becomes shadowy. so now the combination of smoke. now you have the forest. your ability to see and understand what is going on, also to recognize friend from foe. and these particular illinois regiments here, the 45th and the 48th illinois to our west will find themselves at a critical point in the battle around 10:00
to 10:30, not able to properly interpret a force they see in front of them as being an enemy force. they will see flags, which are clearly red, white, and blue, and they will misinterpret them as forces that have been in front of them retiring, in other words, friendly forces in front of them retiring, and they allow that force to move up to within musket distance, and then there is sudden awakening of the fact that they're not friendlies is that they receive the first volley under the national flag of the confederacy, which is red, white, and blue, moving into close proximity to this enemy line and getting the first shot off. that's one of the dynamics of the battlefield environment at shiloh. in fact in the sense it is so
covered in trees that there will be numerous instances of units misidentifying friend from foe. the confederates, unfortunately for them, more of their instances of misidentification were firing into their own troops because of the rapid movements that were being made in the opening phase of the battle and units comingling together as the successive confederate attack formation begin to converge on one another, forward line comes to a halt while engaging union troops and the excessive lines continue to come in and a comingling of confederate forces numbers that comingling of commands, they would misidentify one another. and in the chaos and confusion, fighting in the trees, fight manage the ravines, fighting in the smoke-covered shrouded landscape. that would fire into one another. we would have instances of what we term friendly fire which is
officially known in military language as fratricide. in one instance we had elements of five confederate brigades. there is only 16 in the confederate army there is only 16 brigades participating in this battle. we have elements of five confederate brigades firing into one another at about 10:00, and with devastating effect. in fact, the one regiment caught basically in the center of this firestorm, 4th louisiana infantry, allen said from that point on, his men feared friend more than foe. and that was the most devastating fire they received the entire battle. and we're talking about a unit that between noon and 2:00 on the first day would fight at the hornet's nest in three successive charges and be cut to pieces.
probably many visitors don't realize that actually when they enter this four acres where shiloh methodist church is located is that it's an in-holding. it's actually still owned by the methodists. so they retain the four acres here of the cemetery and the church. and the church -- the church rests in a location where the historic church was positioned at the time of the civil war. but it's of a different period of construction. it's easy to see. the church that was here was a crude log cabin like this reconstruction here to our east. there was a population living here. upwards to maybe 200 people at any one time inhabiting the plateau in these pharmacy that made up the shiloh community, and they had places of worship, which is what shiloh meeting
house represents. it also represents one of the missing components from the cultural landscape here on the battlefield. and that is there were over 70 structures like this cabin here on the landscape when the battle occurred. all of them, for the most part, fell victim to the battle. we only have one structure on the battlefield that dates to the battle. so in a different portion of the battlefield. and you can get a sense of it, the battle's footprint here on the church property because artillery position here astride the corinth road, infantry regiments off to our left front, more markers up in the cemetery for a second day battle action. ground zero for the battle of shiloh, though.
like the older battlefields that were established before the veterans passed on, shiloh is heavily commemorated by that generation that fought the war. troop positions are marked with cast iron markers. for many of the states, the most significant locations where a particular unit might have been engaged, the most significant point on the battlefield that they would determine that the organization was engaged, in this case, illinois would mark with a regimental monument. the battlefield is described as one of the best preserved and one of the best mark to have had civil war sites. it is so because like all of the first fields set aside in the late 1890s, it was done so at a time frame where we still had the physical human connection to the period in history for which it was meant to preserve and honor.
so they moved slow, we might not have had that preserved nature of people now saying it's great. it's one of the best. you can really feel the war here. man, how we're able to pinpoint the locations where these troops fought. well, it was because the veterans themselves were still alive. and if they tarried, it wouldn't have happened. it wouldn't happen quite in the same fashion. and so we wouldn't have that linkage, that touch. you can reach out and touch a monument here, a marker here, and you're touching the generation that fought the war, period. we reached a point where we're almost three miles to the south and west of pittsburgh landing. we've traversed the corinth road, a primary route linking the landing 22 miles down to the crossover, the railroad crossover at corinth.
the union high command, given that the war in the west since january of 1862 had really played out to their advantage. everything was reeling in the west for the confederates. and the union high command had this feeling of impending victory, that they were on the verge of perhaps ending the war in the west. their primary mission was to repossess the mississippi valley. that's the whole purpose. and command had now been organized under a central leader in the west, henry w. halleck who commanded from st. louis. and he had four field armies maneuvering against the western confederate forces under the supreme western commander in the west for the confederacy, albert sydney johnston.
so johnston not only had this federal force encamped, now disembarked at pittsburgh landing in close proximity to his railroad and the corinth junction, but he had three additional union armies pressuring his defenses. he had one in arkansas. he had pope on the river, had just taken new madrid. grant's force here, and don carlos buell of the army of the ohio, which had entered nashville and was maneuvering through middle tennessee. halleck had ordered a concentration of grants force with buell. the plan would be once the two armies were within supporting distance, then halleck would come into the field from st. louis, take command of the whole, and they would carry out the mission of cutting the vital railroads. to the that, they knew they would probably have to contest
with the principle army in the west for the confederates. they knew the confederate forces were concentrating, and that the concentration was occurring in front of grant here in proximity to the tennessee river for a direct defense of the railroads. and the key word is defense. the union high command believed the confederates were on their heels in a defensive posture and were not concentrating for offensive purposes. and in that regard, it was a total misread, one of the issues confronting albert sydney johnston, both militarily as well as politically and publicly, because you can imagine with having now lost foothold in kentucky, now having lost middle tennessee, and having to abandon middle
tennessee, with western tennessee threatened, with being forced out of missouri, with union forces now in arkansas, all of this was under johnston's department of control here in the west, that there was a great uproar in the south concerning his leadership and the results of that leadership which were all negative in the spring of 1862. so he was under a tremendous pressure to right the results of the spring campaign, reverse the course of it. and bring the western confederate forces together for a counter stroke. and that's what the purpose of the concentration at corinth was for. confederates were bringing forces together so that they could carry out some type of counterstroke. and the federals read that as being defensive in posture.
johnson's forces had been scattered. he commanded a front when the spring actions began that extended for nearly a thousand miles, from the appalachian mountain ranges at the cumberland gap eastward through bowling green to columbus, kentucky, and westward across the mississippi to the indian nations. it was a huge, huge geographical area of responsibility. and he had basically the same number of troops to carry out that mission that were now manning a 100-mile front in virginia. so he had a big problem, and the problem was logistics. the other problem was all these western rivers had a tendency to run north to south. they were avenues of invasion by united states forces. as longs as they had naval
support and the steam power and the shippage to move their forces, they could utilize these rivers as the means of getting at the confederate defenses of entering the confederate heartland. and that's the example of just what you see at pittsburgh landing. so the confederates have been backed up. the federals believe they're completely on the defensive, but they're concentrating. and the purpose of that concentration on the behalf of albert sydney johnston and pierre gustav beauregard as second command is to bring forcing together to strike back. and where they're going to strike back is ulysses s. grant's army encamped immediately to their north. because that's the number one threat on the runway, so to speak. its closest. it's the most immediate. at any given day they could march out against the railroads and sever them. so they have to neutralize grant. and that's what brings on the battle of shiloh.
they believe they have to strike grant before buell arrives because they knew that buell was marching overland. their intelligence kept them informed of his daily progress. so in the first week of april of 1862, although the concentration isn't fully complete. johnson doesn't have all the elements of the western confederate army that he believes he needs to successfully mount a counterstroke, he will be urged by subordinates that time is now to go because of the near proximity of bell to the tennessee river. and he will decide on the night of april 2nd to put the army into motion and attack grant. it's clear by looking at the confederate battle plan and timeline that they planned to march in one day, april 3rd and attack grant on april 4th. and of course they're gaming for surprise. they're hoping to move fast, get up here, strike grant, catch him
by surprise, and defeat him in detail, taking him out of the picture and then figure out now how they're going to meet all these other threats. problem for johnston will be communications won't be perfect on getting the orders issued for the march. orders are issued verbally on the night of the second. they're written down on april 3rd. so if you date the message, it tells you to move the next morning, and it's dated april 3rd, what is communicate odd the commander that receives that communication? well, the implication would be that i move on the 4th. and getting this huge mass of men that never have really operated together in a -- in a newly constituted organization of nearly 44,000 troops to unwind and maneuver, and they're
not able to carry it out. units that were supposed to move on the morning of the 3rd don't move out until the afternoon of the 3rd. so they're barely under way before nightfall halts the movement. so now it's clear that they're not going to be able to attack on the morning of april 4th, but johnston hopes possibly to get into place and attack before sundown on april 4th. the problem is on april 4th, mother nature throws in a wrinkle. it rains. and it rains, and it rains, all day long, on into the next day. so now these dry country roads -- and they really weren't dry. they were still wet from the winter rains, are now just ribbons of mud where men are knee-deep. animals can't budge and move artillery pieces and wagons. so they bog down. and that alters the timeline. so when meeting on the night of
the 4th, they now know they're not going to be able to attack until possibly on the 5th. and of course with the rain persisting through the afternoon on the 5th, you can imagine they're still not able to get everybody assembled and at a point of deployment to attack until sundown on the 5th. and so now a battle that was planned to be fought on april 4th will be fought on the morning of the 6th. now this is one of the big things that every visitor to shiloh who isn't, you know, civil war buffs, but one of the things that really challenges them is how did the union forces encamped here at pittsburgh landing miss, miss this assembly and deployment of a confederate army of roughly 44,000 men who gained within one mile of grant's forward camps on the april of april 5th, 1862? and it's